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Colonel Eric Folkestad is the US Army Reserve Senior Policy Advisor to the Chairman of the Reserve Forces Policy Board (RFPB) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington, D.C. The Reserve Forces Policy Board serves as an independent adviser to the Secretary of Defense, providing advice and recommendations to the Secretary on strategies, policies, and practices designed to improve and enhance the capabilities, efficiency and effectiveness of the seven Reserve components.
Eric Folkestad was born into an Army family and grew up learning to appreciate the outdoors in Portland, Oregon before joining the Army. After initial training and Army jump school he was assigned as a parachute rigger at Fort Bragg, NC where his enlisted career culminated with over 2200 jumps as a Demonstration Parachutist for the United States Army Parachute Team, the “Golden Knights,” one of three aerial demonstration teams of the Department of Defense.
Following Colonel Folkestad’s 1991 graduation from Officer Candidate School and Army flight training, he served in a range of operational and staff assignments in the regular Army and the Army Reserve. He left active duty during the Army’s post Desert Storm drawdown transitioning to the Army Reserve and flying Chinook helicopters serving nearly ten years as a traditional reservist before becoming a full time Active Guard/Reserve officer.
Most recently, he was the Army Reserve liaison to the National Commission for the Future of the Army after serving as the Deputy Commander of the Army Air Operations Group in Washington, DC which provides military airlift support to DoD leaders. Other assignments include the Department of the Army, Deputy Chief of Staff G-3/5/7, where he served as a staff officer responsible for developing and gaining Army approval for a series of capability enhancements and the expansion of Army Aviation forces in the regular Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve.
Prior to service in the Pentagon, then Major Folkestad served as the Executive Officer of 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, the "Fighting Fifth," an Army Reserve unit stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia. MAJ Folkestad took part in the deployment of Chinook helicopters for Hurricane Katrina and Rita and assisted in a major reorganization to integrate Blackhawk helicopters to the battalion.
Earlier 5th Battalion deployments as a reservist included mobilization to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) as a Chinook Flight Platoon Leader. Before joining the Army Reserve, Colonel Folkestad served in the regular Army and deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 as well as humanitarian relief operations for Hurricane Andrew in Homestead, Florida.
Colonel Folkestad is a rated Army Aviator qualified in Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters and a graduate of the Army War College with a Masters in Strategic Studies as well as Campbell University in North Carolina with a BS in History. His awards and decorations include the Army Senior Aviator badge, Master Parachutist badge, Military Freefall badge, Bronze Star and Air Medals and the usual decorations expected for an officer of his service. He is also a 2016 Fellow to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Seminar XXI, National Security and Foreign Policy program.
He has three children from a previous marriage; one is a Wake Forest University graduate in Russian studies, another a senior at Wake Forest University and the youngest is a high school senior academic standout considering Duke University.
(Current as of Aug 01, 2017)